D started hearing the voices while he was lying down in bed, still a bit groggy as the morning sun streamed into his room. He still didn’t feel fully awake as he began hearing whispers that made him wander around his room. He fuzzily considered that what he was feeling was sleep-walking, except… while awake, somehow… but that didn’t make any sense, did it? But then, neither did the idea that he was being controlled by mysterious voices that had nothing to do with sleep-walking or sleep paralysis or… sleep-something.
D tried to breathe deep, calm down, and wait out whatever was going on, but the voices only grew stronger as the minutes ticked by. They made him ram into his own bedroom’s walls, get splinters and bruises all across his arms and legs as they seemed not to notice his pain. In fact, most of them seemed fixated not on him but on Serena, a girl in town that he barely knew; he’d only managed to say a few awkward words to her after moving in before he’d become completely tongue-tied. They liked her. They didn’t like him.
And the voices echoed words that D had heard so many times before. His hair was too light, his skin unnaturally pale. His name was stupid, infantile, easy to make fun of but hard to embrace. He was nothing special, just another stupid rich boy who took his privilege for granted. All the arguments that D had tried for so long to ignore or dismiss came rushing towards him at once, bombarding his brain to the point where his own uncertain thoughts were all but drowned out. The boy was ailing both physically and mentally in ways that he had never experienced before.
It was a nightmare. That was all he had to compare it to, a terrible nightmare. Because what else could this chaos be but a dream?
The voices guided D to his bed several times, and he was quite happy to sit back on it, feeling the plush blankets rubbing up against his scabbed ankles. All the voices wanted to do was to go bug somebody other than D, that much they were making very clear. Well, that was a solution he was willing to sign up for. D just wanted to lie back in bed and fall asleep and let everything return to normal. But he couldn’t lie down, no matter how hard he tried to push his body backwards, to reciprocate the loving embrace of his soft mattress.
They wanted him to go to the mirror, to change out of his pajamas and head… somewhere. But D didn’t want to go along with the voices’ plans, didn’t want to deal with a world that didn’t seem quite real. His room, at least, seemed normal, aside from his drastically altered mind space. The world outside his room… who knew? For all he knew, he’d walk downstairs to find his living room replaced with an ocean filled with flying Slaking. Because, well, that was how the world worked in dreams- and this was a dream, wasn’t it? It had to be. It just had to.
Unfortunately for D, it wasn’t his decision whether to leave the room or not. As he finally acquiesced and put on his favorite outfit (with the voices taking altogether too much pleasure in having him change clothes), he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He looked… the same as always, really. No scars, no missing nose, nothing, just him, his body, though filled with much more than one set of internal voices now. And he couldn’t resist going back and looking at his reflection again and again- not just to see whether he looked okay (though, admittedly, he was happy that, whatever awaited him outside, he would look good while he faced it), but because he half-expected to see his body transformed, or to see his reflection wave at him, or to see his bedroom turned into a black void.
D’s living room was not replaced with an ocean filled with flying Slaking. His mother proved to be not some hideous monstrosity or a Zoroark in disguise but, well, his mother, pestering him to go get some fresh air in her usual calm but insistent fashion. But as the minutes, then hours, then days, rolled by, D still had trouble shaking the feeling that something was wrong with the world. The voices were, of course, the main cause of concern, but as time went by, the list of anomalies grew longer and longer. People didn’t just get shiny Pokemon from strangers without exchanging a single word. People didn’t cross half of Kalos and obtain all the available Gym badges along the way in half a week’s time. Yet, somehow, he did.
Another thing people just didn’t do was buy several dozen Awakenings at once from a Poke Mart, but the clerk didn’t so much as bat an eye as D shoved them all into his increasingly overloaded bag. D had gone days without sleep now, without even a moment of rest, and he began to envy his Pokemon for being able to take a nap in the middle of battle, or even for being able to pass out when the pain got to be too much rather than having to power through it every time. So, even though the mob of voices attempted to make him use the potions when his Pokemon slept, D refused to disturb their well-earned rest, hoping that he too would eventually know the embrace of sleep once more. He sprayed the stuff around randomly every once in a while, but most of the time, D would just stand there, staring at the blue bottle, trying to block the battles out of his mind. Awakening. That was what he needed, awakening. But he wasn’t able to spray the blue mist onto his own body, so more often than not, after a lengthy daydreaming session, D would throw the bottle back into his bag with a sigh.
Then, after three sunrises and sunsets while accompanied by the voices, D finally found a bed that was not his own. It was in the middle of a factory overrun by some evil organization- which was another weird thing, that a mere kid like him was fighting a gang of hardened criminals, and usually winning- and it was small and hard, and he could hear the whirring of the conveyor belt and the clanking footsteps of grunts through the room’s thin walls, but D didn’t care. It was a bed. And, impossibly, the voices let him use it as a bed. No, they made him use it as a bed, forced upon him the task that he so desired, the voices for once proving to share his only goal. Because if he fell asleep… well, falling asleep in a dream might make you wake up, right? Or at least change to a different dream, which would be equally welcome at this point, especially if it was one a bit less painful. Which had to be why he hadn’t fallen asleep for three days (three sunrises, three sunsets, though the time spent on his journey seemed paradoxically both so much longer and so much shorter than three days’ length), even as his body cried for rest. Going to sleep meant the end of this nightmare, one way or another.
D managed to fall asleep, despite the noise and the chaos, but he woke up to a world unchanged, one still filled with clanking and whirring and voices. He fell asleep over and over, clinging to that cot as if to life itself, but all that happened was him gaining some infinitesimal amount of energy back as his eyelids fluttered. Eventually he had to move on, going through the motions again, with one less option in mind for how he could be saved.
It was hours later, mere hours later, that he stood before the head scientist of Team Flare, faced with two buttons, red and blue. One, he was told, would lead to the activation of an ultimate weapon that would destroy the world; one would deactivate this weapon and save them all. The scientist expected it to be a guessing game, but the voices knew which was which, yelling both as they gave D conflicting directions.
Blue to save the world. Red to end it. The world’s fate rested on the press of a button.
D couldn’t help but remember one thing he’d been told time and time again: death in a dream wakes you up in reality. It’d worked for him a few times before. Team Flare had made it clear that D, as an opponent of the team’s efforts, would not be spared from the destruction. This could be the opportunity he’d been waiting for, his one chance to do what no blue bottle or uncomfortable cot had managed. He could wake up.
All it would take was one little push.
D’s index finger hovered over the red button.
And it was a dream, wasn’t it? The world couldn’t really be this nonsensical, right? So the dream world would be destroyed. It’s a dream! It doesn’t matter! Even if he’d spent days (days that felt at once like mere hours and like endless months) bonding with Pokemon, becoming a Trainer, making a name for himself, making a difference… Even if he’d finally gotten to know the kids his age in Vaniville, being accepted into their close-knit friend group without them seeming to give it a second thought… it’d all be gone, one way or another. But if… if it was all real, somehow, the voices and the chaos proving impossibly real… then the fate of the world rested on his shoulders. All the people and Pokemon killed by the ultimate weapon would be murdered by him as much as by Lysandre. Was he, like Lysandre, willing to sacrifice everything for a possibly-deluded idea of the greater good, to choose the red button and have his legacy forever be bloodstained?
D tried to clear his mind of the distraction of the voices as he considered his options. One button would destroy this world, however real it proved to be, while the other would preserve it, chaos and all. He had to decide, now, and there was no turning back.
D closed his eyes, took a deep breath… and pressed the blue button.